jeudi 31 mai 2012

Thursday's Thrift shop find

 Every Thursday Gaby finishes college at two, and guess what opens at two, a stones throw away from her college?  My favourite thrift shop.  I tell Gaby each time, I'll just have a quick look around, she knows I'm looking for several things on my thrift shopping list (garden bench, vintage kitchen chairs, vintage plates....I could go on) 
This time, I didn't find what I hoped I would, a old rustic garden bench, however I found this bird painting (painted on cotton or something alike) and I just couldn't resist (only ten euros too).  I knew Marie-Kate would love it for or room, so that's where she found it when she came home from school.
 It was hard to get a decent photo because of the sunlight (south facing bedroom), but the colours are just amazing.
Marie-Kate  certainly does love it, me too.

mardi 29 mai 2012

Farm visit Ecancourt

Yesterday afternoon, we took Alexis and Mari-Kate over to an educative farm in nearby Ecancourt.   It's just on the edge of a nice shady wood, perfect place to go when it's hot.  The farm opened at four, lucky for us, we had taken their bicycles.  Then just ten minutes to wait, time for MK to fool around with her papa
Meanwhile, Alexis read HP 7 (he finished it later in the day too)

The farm is free to visit and it's perfect for younger children, even though Alexis and Marie-Kate are bigger now, I think they still had fun, but children aged six and under would love this place.  We would have like to buy some farm produce, as we read on their website that they sold eggs, chicken et cetera, but it wasn't to be, today.
This sight made the children laugh, can you see the pair of hiking shoes and legs sticking up out of the ground?
And this insect refuge, we are going to do something like this in our garden.
There was great sundial one of the walls of the farm buildings, one that showed the right time too.  Then it was time to leave, we had to pick up Gabrielle from her friends on the way home.

Just down the road from where Gaby was, I show and liked this water pump.  It would be great if it got restored, but just as it is, it's fine too.

Last long weekend in May. Meulan

We intending on going down to the market in Meulan to get some vegetables from our favourite local producer, unfortunately it wasn't to be, because today there was a massive street market (braderie) instead, oh hum no producers in sight, just hoards of people and clothes for sale.  Still all wasn't lost, we thought, we'd go to the butcher's and then baker's shop.  The butcher's shop was closed but opposite the baker's was open, yippee

The photo above was taken on the road a little way down from the closed butcher's shop, I'm not sure when and why these plates were put out on display here, they stick out a little and look a bit out of place, but it's different.

We left Meulan with some baguettes and some yummy bread brown (forgotten the name...Draker out something like that) and of course an eclair au chocolat for Marie-Kate who came with us.

We parked over the other side of La Seine, in the swimming pool's car park.  I don't know whether in can see, but the boat bellow has an English flag on it...nice place to moor your boat. 

vendredi 25 mai 2012

Marie Kate's Charlotte and some sun at last

27°c outside in the shade, can you believe it,  it's so good to be able to fling open all of the windows and make the most of the garden and eating outside.
 Marie Kate made a Strawberry Charlotte yesterday all by herself (or nearly), she searched Charlotte aux fraises rapide and ended up with this Charlotte pictured above.

Thirty sponge fingers and five hundred grams of strawberries and a pot of creme fraiche and some sugar, eaten in minutes by five.

Gaby took this shot of Oliver, he won't know I put it on the blog as he never looks....he has had a couple of busy weeks with entrance exams  and so far so good, he has passed them all, just got the orals to contend with and he's future will be mapped out, at least for the next five years.

jeudi 24 mai 2012

Tree platform for the children

 We did it, yes, finished the tree platform, it's quite rustic and I'll probably try to pretty it up a little one day, but for now, it's fine.  You can just see a bit of the fabric canopy I added, through the branches of one of our trees, 
 Getting close, just a short climb up into the top garden, and voila
Happy children.  Alexis is reading Harry Potter 6, yes already and he's crazy for these books.  When he finishes the 7th, he plans to read Tara Duncan (I think there are 7 of these too)
Marie Kate has started reading Le Chaton Magique (there are loads of books in this series) . As for Gaby she's read a Brisou Pellen book as she's through to the final in her college for a reading rally.

samedi 19 mai 2012

Oliver and friends and their Hookah

So far this weekend, we have managed to get us and the children out of the house to visit Monet's garden and we have also survived Oliver's soirée last night, that went on through the night till about 4.  Oliver's last guests have just left, and very quietly too, I imagine that they must be suffering after the excess of eating, drinking and smoking all night.   
Of course, Oliver didn't keep to his promise and more friends came than he said.  They bought along a Hookah too, boy I hate the smell of these things and smoking is not allowed in our house, so I'm not a happy bunny today.
I don't dare go down into the basement, pizza's, plates, cups and drinks went down and nothing has come back up, apart from silent 17 and 18 year olds who were far from that last night.
Now I know why we didn't go away for the weekend and leave the house to Oliver and Charlotte.

Monet's Garden...and the children loved it

What started out as a bad day, you know the sort,  a pre-teenager who stamped her feet and moaned and groaned about going to a "stupid" garden, a ten year old who'd rather read Harry Potter 5 and also tried the silent treatment to get his own way. And there was Marie-Kate, well she wanted to go and along with her positive attitude we managed to get the other two in the car.

One hour later (30 minutes drive and 30 minute queue) here they are, and look Gaby is smiling. Ok Alexis looks grumpy, but Alexis is a very serious boy so this look is typical for him.
The garden was spectacular and the children found many plants that they loved.

 We never visited the house, we live fairly close and will be visited again for sure this September. 

I just love this bamboo fence and the plants too, not sure what plant it is though...

There were lots of people, but the atmosphere was calm, no pushing like at Versailles, just no stress.  The village was pretty too, there were lots of places to eat and not all were the tourist trap cafés you tend to get in popular places (like in the south of France in Moustiers Sainte Marie for example)  There was even a place to buy plants and once again, really good value.  Oh yes, and the ice-creams were yummy, especially the melon flavour.

Gaby even bought a plant, not such a stupid garden after all.

vendredi 18 mai 2012

Long holiday weekend, what we'll be doing

 The weather hasn't been that great lately, but that's what I expected when we moved up from the sunny south of France.  However, last year was our first full year here and strangely enough it was as hot here, if not hotter north of the Seine that in Sanary (from end of March till July), so yes this year is a little tough.
As it's a long holiday weekend and the younger children have no school today (they worked a Wednesday instead) they and Alain are doing le pont, in other words having a long weekend without any work obligations.
So as soon as I manage to get up (hard one) we are going to Giverny, to visit Claude Monet's gardens, which aren't far from here.
Photo from Made by Jenni

Then after much negotiations, Alain is going to set to work to build a tree platform a bit like this one, minus the slide and the roof. 
Then in between starting and perhaps finishing the above something rare is going to occur tonight, Oliver is having a couple of friends over (he hoped that we were going away for the weekend). Last time he invited four friends over to hang out, we ended up with twenty five kids here, most sleeping over, one sick, a few a bit drunk and one white rug (Mr H's) ruined due the one who didn't make it to the bathroom.   Anyway, I'm a bit worried, is history going to repeat itself?   One thing with have agreed on is that they hang out in the basement, I even cleaned it last night, they have sofas, and chairs, a tv and an xbox and we won't be far away incase of problems...Oliver has promised that there will be just four plus him and no girls....

I'll also be finishing the deck.
And Alain going to find a builder (or three) to get a price for redoing the front wall of the house which is ugly, but not as ugly as the garden wall!
Oh yes, he's promised to phone his maman too:) lazy boy

News just in, Charlotte wants to know if we are going out tomorrow around 14h, because she wants to invite her new friend...boyfriend here.  sixteen and this is her third one, as long as he's nice, that's all that matters. I doubt we'll be out though, but maybe in the garden, if the weather holds up, then she has peace and quiet in the house.

mercredi 16 mai 2012

Roses in our garden.

 Since coming back from the UK, I've been busy in my garden, especially planting around our new deck (not 100% finished yet).   I've bought quite a few roses, mainly David Austin Roses, I love his roses.  Even in Sanary we had some of his roses and they fared quite well, despite the heat and little watering...I can't wait to see these grow here north of the Seine river. On the above photo, you can see two butterfly lavenders and either a Gertrude Jekyll rose or a Sophy's Rose, the problem is, is that it has two labels on it, with these two names, so we'll have to wait and see I suppose.

Sophy or Gertrude?  
Next rose along is Golden Celebration (David Austin again)

And a Soeur  Emmanuelle  (Meilland) 

I found this one at my local DIY store, half the price that some of the other D. Austin roses that I purchased at the garden centre.  It's called Heritage. 

Finally last rose, planted in middle garden, Abraham Derby, this one loves the sun and should thrive here (another half price buy)
 Above, is the view from where I just planted the last rose, looking down onto deck

Another view looking up towards where the Abraham Darby is planted.  The poppies you can see are just beautiful.

Last photo for now, here's some of the grasses I've planted along the side of the patio deck.

Ugly Wall...still ugly for now

We have a horrible concrete wall that separates our garden from that of our next door neighbours Edith and René.  Paint has been flaking off it, along with bits of wall, exposing the metal rods that hold the whole thing together.
Something had to be done.  Two choices, knock the whole awful thing down or repair it!  We decided to do the latter, mainly because we didn't want to worry E & R who are old (the wall is ours) and it would have been a big upheaval for them as they have many plants growing at the foot of the wall and a few climbing roses attached too, they were probably planted about thirty years ago and well, it's the only bit of garden they use and it's pretty, so guess what? I've been working on repairing it.
 Pretty horrid, yes I know.  All the grey bits are where I've already filled in holes or covered over bare concrete.  To the far left hand side where you can see even more cement and a bit of red, this was originally open and led to our house's stables, where the neighbours live fact the our horrible wall wasn't there once upon a time.
 This bit of wall stuck out like a sore thumb, brick breeze blocks!  So I'm screeding over them and when finished I'll paint it the same colour as the other wall.
Just above the breeze brick wall there's a lovely old brick wall, I love this bit.

mardi 15 mai 2012

Busy Time...One tree less

I've been meaning to blog for ages, but just never managed to find enough time.
Alain has been and still is very busy at work. Last week he was in Holland and this week Oslo.
I went to see my mum for a couple of days just over a week ago, she's getting stronger and back to a usual self.
While I was away, Alain cut Mr H's favourite tree down (hope he doesn't come to see his old garden some day soon)

Photo taken during an hail storm

The tree in question wasn't supposed to grow so big and was rare for this to happen, so Mr H told us when we bought the house.  It suffered in the 1999 storm and had to be lifted and held in place ever since.   I didn't like it, mainly because of the endless falling red berries and leaves and not to mention the bird poo (yes we had our table under here because it was the old flat part of the garden which was also near the house.  Luckily for me, Alain didn't care for the tree either and this is what the area looked like after being cut.
Boring and empty yes, but flat and perfect for our new wooden patio, which incidentally is almost finished and I don't regret cutting the tree down one bit (photos to come later this week).